Thesis #45 of 95 - In showing deference to the dictates of their conscience, even avowed agnostics and atheists unknowingly exercise faith in Christ [as Logos]. They may have cause to mourn for their sin and disbelief but will readily submit to Him when He is made known to them
Rev1:7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him
Jn1:9(KJV) That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world
Rom2:15 (Gentiles) show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying and their thoughts either accusing or else defending (particular actions)
Gal5:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall LOVE your neighbour as yourself”
1Jn4:7 Let us love one another; for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God
The faith referred to in this thesis is what I along with some of the earliest Church Fathers have described as common faith (cited in next paragraph). Spiritual faith is man’s positive response to God as He is in various ways revealed to the individual. At the universal level it is most definitively a positive response to conscience. Given that the human’s spirit is planted by God and will one day return to Him it would be surprising if it did not include a blueprint for human behaviour, and so it does: the law of God written on the “heart” (Rom2:15). That is also described (but sometimes mistranslated) as the light of Christ that enlightens every man coming into the world (Jn1:9). [In terms of the translation, it is hardly likely that John writing in the late first century would be informing his readers that the Light (Christ) “is coming into the world” (as per NASB, NIV)].
The atheist and agnostic, whenever they perform what they believe to be right, not merely for the praise of others or to be accepted within society are effectively exercising faith. They are responding positively to God (actually to the will of Christ as Logos) as He has revealed Himself and His law (the principles of sound reason and humane living) in their conscience. In that instant, they are choosing to do a good, for in their innermost being they sense it is good and should be practiced. It is not entirely altruistic for they receive inner gratification by performing it, for in their inner being they are concurring with a natural precept which is ultimately an eternal law. It is no different from a Christian receiving a measure of peace when he knows he is being obedient to Christ’s will; it is how conscience functions. In both cases it is a response of faith.
In the language of second century Christianity, it is that common faith which lies beneath as a foundation that is built upon and consummated in those who come to faith in Christ (ref#1). Such faith or faithfulness (same word in Biblical Greek) is shown to be present when love (agape) is exercised, being a genuine concern and care for another person, which is the heart of God’s law (Gal5:14). Since love is the efflux of faith, faith must be present for that love to flow out from it; love and faith being quite inseparable, faith being the agent of love and love being the product of faith.
A person is justified within the Universal Covenant by responding positively to God’s witness to them through creed or conscience regardless of the degree of accomplishment. Providing the person demonstrates agape they are accepted by God, for He knows that agape was derived from Him, being His Own nature (1Jn4:7). This aligns with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25 concerning the sheep and goats considered in the previous post/thesis.
#1 E.g., Clement of Alexandria (A.D.153-217) The Stromata Book V chap. 1
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